5 questions with… Karen Matthews, power lifter
Karen Matthews, 39, is lined up to break her record of a 342-pound squat at the United States Powerlifting Federation Nationals in Providence, Rhode Island, next week. She’s been prepping for the scene ever since last year, after breaking the old mark and then going on to the Worlds competition while representing the United States and squatting 368 pounds. She’ll be competing in the bench press and deadlift as well, but the squat is her bread-n-butter. The Union’s Zuri Berry caught up with Matthews at her gym to figure out what makes her tick.
How big of a deal is it for you to break your own record?
Every single competition, I strive to break my own record. So at the nationals this year, I have to break my 368 squat. So I’m shooting for a 374.
What is driving you to compete at this stage in your life?
I like having a niche where there’s not a lot of females. I want to show that anybody can do anything if they set their mind to it, no matter their age or their height or anything. It’s just like any other sport that’s out there. You have to have drive, and my drive, it was a small niche for women and I wanted to show that it shouldn’t be. Women can be strong, pound-for-pound, stronger than most of the men, but it was just the fact that I wanted to show other women out there that they could do whatever they want. They don’t have to be weak.
What’s the best part about holding a record nationally of this caliber?
It allows me to lift on the USA team at the Worlds. At this stage, you have to win at state to go onto nationals. At this caliber, it’s important so you can lift on the USA team for the Worlds. And this year the Worlds are going to be in Vienna, Austria, in November.
If you could have another record, what would it be?
Besides the squat, my next one is the deadlift. The current record is 369; I’m going to shoot for 374. In the back room I’ve done as high as 365. There’s no humph, there’s no excitement, there’s no adrenaline … and that’s just the back room. So if I could pull 365, I should be able to add 10 pounds.
What do you think the odds are for you to break your squat record?
Considering last Friday I broke my own record (in squat). The deadlift, I’ve never done more than 365. So I’m going to shoot for 365 in my second attempt. I think there’s a good chance, but I’ve never done that before. I’m going to shoot for it. That’s about all I can do. My main goal is to win first place, so I can go to Worlds. If I can break some records inbetween time, then that’s great.
– Zuri Berry, sports writer
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